The Language We Pray In: Maya Joshi


June 14, 2019

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Maya Joshi shares with us something she wrote for a writing contest. The piece is called “Do You Speak My Language”.

maya c joshiMaya writes…

The Language We Pray In

My grandmother closes her eyes in the dawn light and croons her prayers to the awakening world like a secret not meant to be kept.

My father rumbles his prayers reluctantly, his eyes on the clock and thoughts elsewhere. His faith fled decades ago and yet the words remain. He wears his sudrah at night and still ties his kusti, fretting over frays and seams.

My mother recites her prayers clearly, the same way she was taught so long ago. She smiles at old photographs and insists on even older traditions. She keeps the connection alive, like a bell ringing in Louisville, hoping its companion will answer from Mumbai.

My brother prays at his own pace, emphasizing another phrase and showing more emotion than is proper, searing flames into his eyes and trying so very hard, all for something he does not believe in but loves the meaning of.

I pray in the Faravahar I’ve worn since 4th grade, in the Avestan on my bedside table, in the eagerness to teach and learn, I pray in the words I console and congratulate with and the words I write but don’t share. I’m holding a prayer book I was never taught how to read, thinking about the family I’m an ocean away from. Can our god hear us? When the words of helplessness, desperation, and thirst are in a harsh new language and it’s been so long since I cast my eyes to the flames and breathed deep, smoke and shadows carrying fears and doubts away. But there are no Agyaris here, no fire temples.

Does god still exist when all the true believers are up there too? When we still carry the culture, the food and traditions, across oceans and centuries, but have lost the faith?


We have not yet lost our Faith.

We believe we can change things, but to do so the language we pray in must be truth, wisdom, and love.

Truth. Wisdom. Love.

Saachu. Buddhi. Pyaar  Every language has words for them.

Every God hears them in every form of prayer.

Thought, Word, Deed.

Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta.


  1. NJ Cama

    Thanks Maya. Very nicely put!

  2. Sheeroy Sunawala

    Great to read and know. But the basic question has not been addressed in the answer.
    What IS the language we pray in?
    I am sure a number of us would appreciate a clear, detailed response as to what is/are the language/s we pray in…Admittedly, there is much confusion.